DECATUR COUNTY – U.S. Census Bureau has begun the “follow-up” period of the 2020 Census from earlier this year by sending personnel out into the Chicago, Indianapolis, southeastern Indiana areas and parts of Illinois and Wisconsin. The census began in January and is scheduled to finish by the end of October, 2020.
If you didn’t fill out the questionnaire sent via U.S. Mail or completed an online U.S. Census form earlier this year, you just might be getting a visit from a real live Census taker soon.
Taking a count of 330 million people in the United States is not an easy job and requires 500,000 census takers to complete. As labor intensive as that might seem, the information learned in the process helps legislators decide how to spend the more than $675 billion taxpayers dollars that keep the country moving forward.
“Most people who apply to be census takers understand the importance of the task and respect the importance of the information they’re collecting,” Census 2020 Media Specialist Time Swearen said.
“The last national census of this type was in 2010,” Swarens said. “The census was provided for in the original constitution, and the first census was conducted in 1790.”
Thomas Jefferson was in charge of the first census. According to Swarens, the reason the tradition is continued is because of a process called reapportionment that takes place after the census is finished. Reapportionment is the periodic re-allotment of U.S. Congressional seats according to changes in the census figures as required by the constitution.
The census is conducted in four phases.
The first count begins in Alaska because it is a very large state, and when it’s frozen the people there are more likely to be home in order to stay warm and so are easier to reach.
In February, the “group quarters” count begins. “Group quarters” are locations of groups of people like people living in nursing homes, in college dorms and residence halls.
In March, U.S. citizens will begin to receive their individual census forms in the U.S. Mail.
July 30, the final “follow-up” process begins, sending out the census takers to poll anyone who might have been forgotten or missed for any reason.
The Census Bureau provides face masks and requires each census taker to wear it while conducting their work. They follow CDC and local public health guidelines when they visit, and must complete a virtual COVID-19 training on social distancing protocols and other health and safety guidance before beginning their work in neighborhoods.
“If no one is home when the census taker visits, the census taker will leave a notice of their visit with information about how to respond online, by phone or by mail,” Swearen said.
Swearen said census takers can be easily identified by a valid government ID badge with their photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date on the badge.
“I encourage everyone to cooperate with census takers. We have to insure that everyone within every household is counted,” Swearen finished.